Ultraviolet (UV) protection – community strategies

If we are overexposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or from artificial sources (e.g., indoor tanning), we can increase our risk of skin cancer. A study in Alberta found that UV radiation exposure may account for 82% of melanoma cases in the province.1

Protecting ourselves from excess UV exposure can support health and reduce the risk of developing skin cancer. UV protection can be positively influenced by community environments.

When our communities implement multi-component community-wide interventions, they are better able to strengthen four action areas: the social environment, the physical environment, the economic environment and the policy environment. These action areas are supported by community leadership and learning from experience.

Multi-component community-wide interventions to reduce UV exposure could include encouraging municipal councils to provide permanent or portable shade structures in playgrounds and parks and during community events. This strategy could be supported by initiatives to raise awareness about UV exposure and encourage the use of sunscreen and protective clothing. 

Although multi-component community-wide interventions are ideal, communities need to start where they are at! This may mean starting with one strategy, environment or setting and then building on it as you move towards thinking broadly about UV exposure and protection.

Ways to take action

All of the evidence-informed strategies are tried, tested and useful strategies that are based on current research. See the methods section for more information on how these strategies were developed.

Changing the social environment is about enhancing community awareness and knowledge of sun safety, while enhancing access to sun safety resources.

Plan and implement multi-component community-wide interventions. When communities work to change the social environment, it is important to do so in conjunction with changes to the physical, economic and policy environments. 

Changing the physical environment is about creating shade structures and strategies to protect community members from sun exposure and UV radiation.

Plan and implement multi-component community-wide interventions. When communities work to change the physical environment, it is important to do so in conjunction with changes to the social, economic and policy environments.

Changing the economic environment is about protecting community members from sun exposure by making sun-protective strategies affordable.

Plan and implement multi-component community-wide interventions. When communities work to change the economic environment, it is important to do so in conjunction with changes to the social, physical and policy environments. 

Policy change is about the development of local sun safety policies that promote sun safety practices and support the development of sun-protective settings.

Plan and implement multi-component community-wide interventions. When communities work to change the policy environment, it is important to do so in conjunction with changes to the social, physical and economic environments.

  1. Alberta Health Services (AHS). Cancer numbers tool. Alberta: AHS; 2018. Available from: https://www.albertapreventscancer.ca/alberta-prevention-data/cancer-numbers-tool/.
  2. Alberta Health Services. Surveillance and Reporting: The 2017 Report on Cancer Statistics in Alberta. Edmonton: CancerControl Alberta. 2017.
  3. Alberta Health Services, Alberta Prevents Cancer. Reduce Your Risk: Limit UV Rays [Internet]. 2016. Available from: http://www.albertapreventscancer.ca/reduce-your-risk/limit-uv-rays/
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